Craigslist Caving Shows The Perils Of Self-Policing... Or The Perils Of Grandstanding Politicians?

from the i'd-argue-the-latter dept

Following Craigslist's decision to cave in to demands and start monitoring every "adult services" post on its platform, the Wall Street Journal is running a rather odd article suggesting that this somehow shows "the perils of self-policing" by a community, and suggesting that such crowdsourced reviews don't work. Except, that's a gross misreading of the actual situation. The crowdsourcing worked just fine. The issue was that members of the Craigslist community didn't have a problem with the ads in question. Those who did have problems were grandstanding politicians looking to get elected to higher office. If anything, it doesn't show the perils of self-policing, it shows the perils of getting caught in the sights of grandstanding politicians who need to whip up populist anger even if they have no legal basis to do so.

Filed Under: grandstanding, politicians
Companies: craigslist


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 19 May 2009 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    Point noted. Why just the other day I found this in the classifieds of the SF Chronicle and the SJ MN. Wait a sec...I am mistaken. It was Craigslist for the SF BA. Glad I remembered lest I misspoke.

    So you have a problem with that ad? Fine. Whoever posted it may have broken the law, and thus they deserve to be dealt with. That's what we've said all along. But why would you blame Ford because some people speed with Fords? It makes no sense.

    Let's be clear. CL is not a philanthropy.

    No one ever said it was, and whether or not it is is rather meaningless to the discussion. You're making an emotional argument that clouds your logic.

    It charges fees for certain types of ads, and uses the "free" for other types of ads to entice people to the site. It then goes on to try and avoid any responsibility for the "free" by using a TOS that is nothing more than a "head in the sand" disclaimer.

    I could just as easily say the same thing about Ford selling cars that speed. How hard is it to recognize the difference between a tool and a user? I mean, honestly, this is one of the most basic concepts in the world?

    Who else do you blame? Do you blame the AT&T for selling the guy who posted the ad internet access and having a TOS that has the exact same clauses as CL? Do you blame Dell for selling him the computer and not stopping him from posting such an ad?

    Sorry, but using CL as a poster child to lambaste "evil AGs" is downright silly and not calculated to present a compelling argument.

    No, the only thing silly is blaming a tools provider for the actions of its users.

    Hell, based on your logic, we here at Techdirt are liable for you being unable to recognize the difference between For and the driver of a Ford.

    If CL permitted paid content to advertise appartment rentals with a category "DNR2DP" (Do not rent to disabled people",

    Well, depending on which circuit that ended up it would actually be slightly open to question. With the Roommates decision (one which many people think was a terrible misread of section 230) you'd be right.

    But, here's the problem. Nowhere does CL have such a section. Nor do they have a section that says "post your prostitution ads here." There are a number of perfectly legitimate adult services and that's the section they have.

    I could just as easily say that if you had posted a comment here advertising that you'd perform sexual acts for money, then obviously you should be arrested.

    The problem with both examples? It didn't happen. Why do you need to pretend CL did something it did not?

    By your logic, if this category was added to the "free" list it should be able to hide behind its TOS and Safe Harbors. Sorry, but in the real world this is not how things operate.

    In the real world, at least I can comprehend the difference between explicitly creating a section just for prostitution and one for the many different adult services out there. You should join us out here in the real world.

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